Wednesday, December 23, 2015

What is Science? What is Truth?

Science is a lot trickier than most people imagine.

Modern physics anyway.  Such as String Theory, which is said to have made no testable predictions in 50 years.  (That's funny because I recall hearing 10 years ago that String Theory predictions were going to be tested real soon now.)  But This Is Not New!  Historically, it has taken decades or even centuries to test the most central theories.  Such as Galileo's cosmology.  Galileo himself could only show evidence by example, not evidence as proof.  It wasn't until hundreds of years later that astronomical devices could make sufficiently accurate measurements to prove that the earth moves around the sun.  It also took some thinking about this that Galileo himself hadn't done.

At cruder scales, things have been working better.  We can have a very very high degree of confidence in the existence of atoms, biological evolution through natural selection, and anthropogenic climate change.  Here we have numerous testable hypotheses and vast numbers of confirmations.  Our Bayesian confidence should be 99% or above.

Still, very very high confidence isn't absolute certainty.  If you want that, you'll just have to find it in theology or philosophy, and would probably find it isn't there either.

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